What is the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)...?!?!

What is the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD)

The Tobacco Products Directive or the TPD as it most often referred to, is an EU-wide legislation which governs the manufacture, distribution, advertising sale and/or of tobacco and related products within EU member states. Controversially some vaping hardware products and e-liquids were added to this directive in May last year effectively categorising them as a tobacco product. As such, well until Brexit, the UK has to fall in line with the TPD, however that being said it does not mean that vaping will have to conform to the very same rules and regulations that most tobacco products do, as there are specific rules that relate to vaping. 

A Timetable of Changes to the UK Vaping Industry:

  • From 20th May 2016 all new products manufactured for sale needed to be tested (according to TDP-specific standards) and the relevant regulatory body had to be made aware of the specifics including all ingredients for the new product.
  • From the 20th November 2016 retailers can continue to sell any non-compliant products and/or e-liquids however any new products and/or e-liquids will require testing (according to TPD-specific standards) and again the regulatory body will need to be informed a minimum of 6 months prior to being available to consumers.
  • After 20th May 2017 all vaping-related products that fall under the regulations will need to have been tested and registered with the relevant regulatory body and certified as TPD compliant. This includes any products that were sold before these new regulations came into effect.

What Product Testing Will Be Done?

Both the manufacturers, distributors and retailers were in many cases were using their own quality control systems and only stocking products of the highest available quality, however what the TPD does is standardise that quality control.

The issue many within the industry has is the fact that testing all e-liquids and all components that fall under the regulations takes a lot of time and money and in some cases will result in a temporary shortage of stock while they wait for certain products to pass through the certification stage.

The manufacturers will need to test for:

  • Emissions (analysis of the vapour released to test for safety and quality)
  • Nicotine levels and the amount delivered via each draw/puff of vapour (for consistency and of course to ensure e liquids adhere to new maximum nicotine level rules)
  • Will need to assess the e-liquid ingredients/content themselves to ensure nothing harmful is included.
  • On top of the testing of e-liquids all hardware products, such as sub-ohm, tanks will need to be leak proof (including re-filling methods), child proof and lastly have an e-liquid reservoir no big than 2ml.

Changes in Advertising & Branding

Vape advertising & branding, thanks to the TPD, is going to find itself having to jump through more hoops, and to a certain extent become non-existent. Whilst there were never huge amounts of advertising in the media, thanks to previous advertising regulations, after the TPD it will essentially cease to exist.

Direct mail (printed advertising i.e. leaflets), billboards and advertising on public transport will continue to be allowed.

The current style of branding e-liquids will still be allowed to a certain degree, however some packaging that closely resembles food, confectionary and/or drinks will be scrutinised and may not be allowed. All packaging will also now need to display the same warning labels as we are used to on cigarette & tobacco packaging.

What Products does the TPD Focus on?

Contrary to the belief of some, the TPD doesn’t regulate every aspect of vaping, there are a few main areas it deals with which mainly relate to e-liquids and tank sizes; below is a brief list of some of the items they’re focusing on:

  • All tanks
  • Any starter kits which includes some form of an e-liquid tank 
  • E-liquid/e-juice
  • All DIY base liquids (PG/VG bases) that contain nicotine in any quantity

Despite these restrictive new regulations the TPD doesn’t have any remit with regards to box mods, coils, RDA’s with no reservoir and/or the the batteries that most e-cigarette devices use, so for now there are no regulations regarding these vape related items.

Products which won’t be affected by the TPD:

  • E-liquids with no nicotine content i.e. 0 mg flavours.
  • Any DIY bases (PG/VG) which contain no nicotine.
  • Box Mods (unless sold in a kit with a tank).
  • Accessories related to vaping including coils and rebuildable coils.
  • Any of the batteries used to power your e-cigarette device. 

Rules and Regulations for Specific Products

A large portion of the TDP regulations concern what retailer are and are not allow to sell.

  • Glass droppers for e liquids are no longer allowed.
  • Tanks which have a capacity of over 2ml (including RTA,s & RTDA’s) are banned.

  • Bottles of e-liquids must not exceed 10ml in volume (so no more large bottles)

  • E-liquids must not contain more than 20mg/ml of nicotine.

The last point is one which may well effect heavier vapers who currently vape a liquid with more than 20mg - The advice for dealing with this is to either; consider making the switch to a sub-ohm device which inherently deliveries larger quantities of nicotine or move down to a lesser strength (gradually) before the regulations come into full-effect.

To Sum Up

Many people, on first thought wrote off these regulations as unnecessary, pointless and frustrating, and while there is some validity to their arguments, there are a few points to be made. Firstly, rules are rules which legally we must follow - The vape shops you frequent will be working tirelessly, and have been since the cut-off-date in November 2016, to source the same e-liquid/e-juice flavour and brands that they have always stocked but now in full TPD compliant variants, whilst at the same time sourcing new e-liquids to fill the gaps that some of the non-compliant products are going to leave in their range.

Secondly, specifically regarding the maximum bottle size of 10ml, while frustrating, it’ll opens up your options with regards to mixing and matching your e-juice flavours. How many times have you spent a lot of money on a large bottle of e-juice that you were sick of after vaping just a tanks worth? This will be a thing of the past as you'll now be able to spend the same money on 3-4 different 10ml bottles of e-juice to help mix it up, which leads on to our final point…

You’ll still be able to buy the vape flavour you know & love in the quantities you’re used to, it’ll just means buying three small bottles instead of one big one. It’s a new era for vaping in the UK, however once we manage to acclimatise to the way the new regulations will effect us, we are sure there will be some positives to come out of the TPD...

For more information please checkout the governments official website here TPD UK Government Guidelines & Overview and for Part 6 of the TPD, specifically for E-cigarettes


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